Nonpareil jockey/suspense writer Dick Francis’s son Felix, who coauthored his late father’s last four novels (Crossfire, 2010, etc.), turns in a solo performance fully worthy of the family name.
There’s nothing like having a colleague murdered in front of you to turn an inoffensive financial advisor into a freelance investigator. Nicholas Foxton has both a more pressing incentive than most self-made heroes, since his friendship with Herb Kovak, of Lyall & Black, was just beginning to deepen when Herb was executed by three shots minutes before the Grand National was to be run, and better qualifications, since he has both the computer skills to follow the money and the physique of a former jockey sidelined when he broke his neck seven years ago. Doctors have forbidden Nick from riding again, but they can’t stop him in his unexpected capacity as Herb’s executor and sole heir from looking into his estate, and it’s one unholy mess. Herb, a transplanted American, owed thousands of pounds on a dozen credit cards and had only a nominal savings account. With some help from Herb’s twin sister Sherri, however, Nick realizes that Herb also had a large income stream he kept carefully off the books. Meantime, Col. Jolyon Roberts, a client at Lyall & Black, has asked Nick to look into a hospital the Roberts Family Trust had supposedly built in Bulgaria—a hospital the Colonel’s nephew Ben claims doesn’t exist. And Nick’s artist girlfriend Claudia, who’s been suspiciously distant lately, thoroughly alarms him when she tells him the reason why. As the plot unfolds, Nick will fall into the hands of his enemies, come to terms with a dark family secret and get one more chance to climb on a horse and ride him to glory.
If all this sounds familiar, Francis fans can be assured that, like Nick’s climactic mount, they’re in reassuringly expert hands.